I flew 5000 miles this week. It is virtually impossible to do that and have nothing go wrong. I did not achieve the impossible. Having said that, it could have been worse and this post’s title could have been more dramatic.
A couple of quick stories showing that even airlines have multi-faceted personalities, though upon further reflection, it is more Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (or sometimes Heckle and Jeckle).
Tuesday. I finish early at my client and am able to return home this night instead of Wednesday if the airline gods will bless me. Mixed blessing. The flight I want out of a small Tennessee town has been canceled but there is one last flight that will allow me to make a connection and sleep in my own bed tonight next to my own wife. The Catch. I am flying on a non refundable ticket which means standby, the airline can be benevolent or I may have to pay a modest fee. I am OK with any of these. The Mr. Hyde part. It takes 1 hour and 20 minutes for the new computer system at US Air to take my $100 and get me confirmed on flights. The Dr. Jekyll part. Brenda at the US Air counter stayed on this and would not quit until she could get me what I needed. Thank you Brenda. Home at midnight but home.
Wednesday I show up at O’Hare needing to get to beautiful Billings, Montana. I was scheduled to connect through Denver in time to have dinner with my client. To my surprise the check-in kiosk tells me I cannot get there today. I am automatically rebooked on flights tomorrow. You can almost see the kiosk smiling knowing that it has done its job. Problem is that this is a one day meeting and I am heading back the next day. The Dr. Jekyll part. Two United agents work hard and eventually find a way on Delta through Salt lake City to Billings. They tell me I am confirmed and I race to the Delta counter where more mayhem awaits. The Mr. Hyde part. The Delta ticket agent informs me that I am not confirmed but on standby. The good news is that the flight to Salt Lake is wide open. HOWEVER, the flight to Billings may be oversold and that I will not know until I am in Salt Lake City. Being stuck in Utah is worse for me than not going at all since my return ticket is still through Denver.
An hour later at the Delta gate the Heckle and Jeckle part ensues. The first agent tells me that the flight to Billings is oversold. Being a savvy traveler I am not satisfied with that answer so I ask if I am one of the people who has a confirmed seat. He looks confused. The person working next to him looks at my ticket, types in a few things and gives me my seat assignment for this flight and a confirmed seat for the flight to Billings. Anxiety gone. I get to fly into SLC which is beautiful. I save the day at my Friday meeting, catch a tight connection in Denver and am home at 10:30 instead of the scheduled midnight. Firmly in travel heck.
PS. I flew a Boeing 777 home from Denver. Fantastic plane.